To recognize and celebrate the employment opportunities made available in SW Ohio by the partnership between Damascus and Pioneer Cladding and Glazing, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith and Assistant Director Stuart Hudson presented an Ohio IMPACT AWARD last month
Pioneer, a Damascus employment partner in Mason, Ohio, has provided work opportunities to nearly 700 individuals since 2016. Each of those individuals had a felony background--as well as a Damascus Client Rep and the pathway to permanent, full-time employment available to them.
ODRC Director Chambers-Smith and Assistant Director Hudson shared their experiences working with employers around the state, as well as their appreciation for businesses such as Pioneer.
"Thank you for being the first place of employment for so many of our people," Director Chambers-Smith told the Pioneer and Damascus team members gathered. She outlined her history with the state department, which began in 1993 in a clerical role "back when there were typewriters." She shared how she was excited to return to Ohio as the Director and have an impact on corrections throughout the state; the drop in recidivism in Ohio and the focus on the care of both staff and those in custody point to that impact. Director Chambers-Smith also discussed the work she and others on her team do to meet with employers in Ohio to encourage them to offer more opportunities like Pioneer has, noting that many people returning from incarceration still need a first chance to succeed in life.
"We would like to see more partners in Ohio like Pioneer, like Damascus," said Assistant Director Stu Hudson.
Pioneer department leads asked questions regarding the opioid crisis and how that has impacted crime and recidivism in Ohio. Pioneer Team Lead Ben Ellis shared his own experience working with Damascus workers.
"I didn't know what to expect at first," he said. "Now I know these guys are normal, trying to get back on their feet. I've met some good guys over the years."
David Hensley, Pioneer's Safety Specialist, has been instrumental in the partnership and accepted the IMPACT AWARD on the company's behalf. He lauded his own team for their commitment to the process and the Damascus team for their role in the success.
"There hasn't been one person (Damascus) sent who has shown up to work over the years without one of the Damascus people with them," David said. "That's not true with anybody else we work with."
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